Strawberries are an incredibly vibrant fruit, in both color and flavor. Their bright red hue stands out in just about any dish that includes strawberries in it, and its sweet yet sharp flavor will make just as much of a statement in the food as well.
Because of how versatile these fruits can be, there are countless different ways that you can turn your strawberries into a dish that you can be proud of.
With that being said, this means that there might come a time when you plan on making your strawberries a certain way, but you come to realize that something went wrong in the process.
It could be that you used the wrong amount of ingredients, or it could be that you weren’t sure the best way to approach something. No matter what the problem with your strawberry dish is, there will surely be a way to fix it.
For example, consider strawberry sauce. Strawberry sauce is an incredibly common take on strawberries and it is used all throughout cooking in numerous dishes. Despite its prevalence, there will come a time when you realize the strawberry sauce you have made is not thick enough for your standards and you need to go about thickening it.
Thankfully, there are quite a few different ways you can thicken your strawberry sauce. Depending on what you are using the sauce for, how much time you have to work with the sauce, and what dietary limitations you may have, you will be able to easily find a solution.
Before you know it, you will have the thick strawberry sauce that you need to turn your dish into something memorable.
Working Around Situations
There will be various situations that you come across where the most common thickening agent used with strawberry sauce simply will not work. More often than not, people are going to use wheat flour as a thickening agent because it is one of the most commonly used thickening agents out there for sauces.
However, in cases where you cannot eat grains, whether it is a dietary issue or for a holiday such as Passover, you may not know what to use as a substitute.
Traditionally, cornstarch is used as a substitute where wheat flour cannot be used as a thickening agent, but you will want to stray away from doing this with strawberry sauce.
Cornstarch is used as a thickening agent in soups and sauces that have a strong and savory flavor, as these flavors help to mask the corn undertones that this starch brings to the table. Strawberry does not have the flavor profile to do this, meaning that if you try to add cornstarch to your strawberry sauce, you may not appreciate the taste that comes from it.
An alternative thickening agent that you will want to work with is going to be potato starch. While potato starch does have some undertones of a flavor, when it is properly incorporated with the rest of the strawberry sauce, the strong strawberry flavor will completely overpower that potato flavor, leaving you with a strawberry sauce that you can be proud of.
What Alternatives Can You Use?
There are a few different thickening agents that you can work with to ensure that your strawberry sauce is as thick as you need it to be.
The most common thickening agents that you will come across in recipes include wheat flour, potato starch, and cornstarch. Wheat flour is going to be the most optimal in general situations as it is common, easy to work with, and there is little potential for problems.
After that, you will want to opt for potato starch. In a strawberry dish, potato starch is going to be easier to work with than cornstarch and it will also be easier to ensure that the flavor of your strawberry sauce is not altered in any way. Potato starch also works wonderfully as an alternative for when you cannot use grains in your strawberry sauce.
In cases where you can have grains, but not necessarily gluten, and you do not have potato starch in your kitchen for a quick fix for strawberry sauce that isn’t beginning to thicken, you may have to opt for cornstarch.
You will want to be careful with cornstarch to ensure that you mix it into the rest of the strawberry sauce well, as cornstarch is prone to forming white clumps of starch in the sauce, and nobody really wants this.
Finally, a more unique alternative that you can work with that will incorporate itself well into the flavor and texture of your strawberry sauce is going to be butter. Butter can effectively thicken the mixture of strawberries and sugar, without the need for you to create a slurry or for you to try and mix things together and worry about the starches clumping together.
Keep in mind that the butter works best when you only need a small amount of extra thickening in your strawberry sauce, as it is not a traditional thickening agent. It works well in certain situations, but also remember that butter is going to affect the flavor more than any of the other thickening agents.
When working with butter in your strawberry sauce, you will want to take a taste test to make sure that everything is staying the way that you want it to in terms of flavor.
How Much Should You Add?
The amount of thickening agents you will add to your recipe will depend on what kind of thickening agent you are using. There are some cases when you will use a full tablespoon of an ingredient, while in other cases, you will need to mix and dissolve the ingredients together in a slurry.
As a rule of thumb, you will almost always create a slurry with the thickening agents. This is the nature of how they work, and it is unavoidably something you will need to do when you are using them.
Creating a slurry will involve taking some water and mixing it together with the starch of your choice until you have created a smooth mixture that you can slowly work into your strawberry sauce recipe.
For a standard serving of strawberry sauce, which would be approximately two cups of fresh strawberries (chopped), you will want to use about one tablespoon of potato or cornstarch.
Along with that single tablespoon, you will want to add about two tablespoons of water for the slurry. You can adjust the measurements of that as you need to, but always remember to test what you are working with in increments so that you will know when to stop.
You can also use other variants of starch if you prefer. A common alternative to cornstarch is going to be arrowroot powder. If you are planning on using arrowroot powder, you will want to use about one half of the amount of cornstarch that the recipe you are working with calls for, as it is a stronger thickening agent than others.
You should also always add arrowroot powder at the end of the cooking process, as the heat of cooking breaks the powder down quickly, which will make it less effective the longer you have it over heat.
If you are using butter, you will want to use about one tablespoon of butter alongside about one and a half cups of chopped strawberries. Because you will be cooking the strawberries over heat, you can simply mix and stir the butter into the forming syrup to let it melt and dissolve.
This will not only improve the taste of the strawberry sauce, but it will also add a small amount of thickness to the texture.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.